Sunday, January 31, 2010

My computer is looking for aliens

Yes, you read the title right. My computer is looking for aliens. How? I donate time to seti@home. When my computer is idle, BIONC contacts SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intellegence...I think), and downloads data from the radio telescopes and helps sift through them for alien pop songs and infomercials.
If looking for aliens isn't your thing, you can download BOINC and let it do other scientific work too, though. My computer doesn't JUST look for alien signals, it also does math for ...something or other. Some kind of math theorem type thingie. There's also several biomedical research projects that you can assist with, like cancer and AIDS research, or you can let you computer figure out climate change, or astrophysics. If you are indecisive, you can let your computer work on several projects. It will work on one for a set amount of time, then rotate to the next, then the next, and so on.
Now, the real question is Why, isn't it? My answer is easy. I like feeling like I contribute without having to actually do anything hard. I also would love to be the person who's computer found aliens. That would rock, and I'd probably get an interview on CNN or something. It's not hard, doesn't use up a lot of room on the computer, and I can turn it off if it frustrates me. Also, when the scientists behind these programs decide to take over the world (that's what scientists do. Watch and learn from movies), I'll be in good standing to become an evil henchman. It's win-win.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Works in Progress

While I like looking at other peoples art, I'm usually more interested in seeing how they are making it, or what it looks like before it's finished. That attitude is what keeps shows like "How it's Made" on the air, or all those tons and tons of 'How To' sites going. People don't really want to make anything themselves, they just want to see how it's done! Okay, so some people want to create too, but most of the time, it's enough just to see the process.
It's that line of thought that inspires this post. I'm going to show/tell about what I'm working on right now. Specifically, two, maybe three dragon puppets.
All three involve paper mache, and two will be hand puppets, the kind that you stick your hand up in to move the mouth. The third is going to be a rod puppet, I think.
Anyway, thus far I've only gotten some of the paper mache done. I'm using a process I learned from Dan Reeder, who is not a man I know personally, but who has put out several books on the subject, and has a site devoted to such things....and a blog, and videos on YouTube about his process. His site is and it's great!
To say that I learned my process from him is not completely true, and maybe a little unfair to him, though. I've modified it to suit my own tastes, that's the beauty of Paper's versatile. My method involves 'sculpting' a form, then paper mache-ing over it. Then I cut the paper mache off of the form.
In the picture are the two dragon heads for the hand puppets, and the 'egg' for the rod puppet. I'm not sure how successful these will be, but I'll keep you up to date. Thus far, I've not gotten too far on any of the three, but it's a learning experience for me. I've done a few (VERY few) puppets, and so the end results are still very much in question. Not pictured is the material that will be the dragons' necks, or the teeth and claws that I've sculpted from polymer clay. Wish me luck, and I'll update you as we have more progress!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Big First Posting: E Cigarettes

Hello and welcome to my very first post, and it has nothing to do with Jar Babies or Art, this time.
For a first, let's talk about smoking. I'm a smoker, or I was until two weeks ago. Now I'm a 'Vaper'.
Yeah, I didn't know what the Hell a 'vaper' was either. Vaping is what the use of electronic cigarettes is called. Apparently, this is a big thing in some circles, and one I am now proudly a part of. It's new enough and small enough that it isn't persecuted like regular cigarettes, yet! Yay!
An E-Cigarette is a three (or two) part system: A battery, A vaporizer, and a cartridge. Most of them that I've seen combine the vaporizer and the cartridge into one piece now, though. The battery warms up the cartridge and produces a vapor that you inhale when you take a drag off of it (also the LED at the end of the 'cigarette' lights up! Just like smoking!) The vapor has nicotine (Yay again!), flavoring and it's way less nasty on your body than cigarettes.
As a menthol smoker, I went for menthol flavored cartridges at first, and I love them. The first week was a battle of wills to keep from lighting a real cigarette, because I psychologically missed the actual smoke. Now, though, it's not a problem. The other flavors are amazing and varied, though. A new personal favorite is the cola flavor from Vapor4Life. They have over 100 flavors already, and more keep showing up! Yummy flavors like Cola, Raspberry, Menthol and Mint, and nasty flavors like Banana and Pineapple are all available (note: I just hate bananas and pineapples...ew. If you eat that kind of crap, you might like them). They also come in different strengths of nicotine, from 0mg up to 36mg.
So, if you are sick of smoking but not ready to give it up, you have an alternative now. I'm personally endorsing Vapor4Life, but I'll admit my e-cig vaping lifestyle experience is limited to theirs and Smoker Friendly's brand of e-cigarette. Vapor4Life's are less expensive than most brands, have great reviews, and most importantly, you can have a bright red cigarette with a green filter and a blue LED that lights up on the end, if that's what you want! That's one of the colors I have!